Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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Why You Still Don’t Believe That You’re Gifted

photo by Maarten van den Heuvel, Unsplash

photo by Maarten van den Heuvel, Unsplash

People tell you that you’re super smart. They’re baffled by how much you know and how you know it. You can ace a test without studying. You can talk with just about anyone about just about anything. You’re always thinking, analyzing, imagining and empathizing.

But you’re sure that you’re not gifted.

How is that possible?

Here are some ideas:

• You know how much you don’t know.

• You think you’re normal. Doesn’t everyone obsess about Dr. Who and David Attenborough’s Planet Earth documentaries?

• Too many people have told you “Don’t get a swelled head,Who do you think you are,” “You think you’re so smart,” or “Nobody likes a know-it-all.”

• You value justice and equality. If someone is gifted, someone is not gifted. It can imply that you’re better than someone else.

• Your Aunt Mindy was gifted and she didn’t turn out too well.

• You haven’t sent rockets into space or designed something “insanely great.”

• You’re good at faking it. If people knew the real you, it would be obvious that you’re average.

• You’ve been told over and over that you can’t possibly know as much as you know. You’re starting to believe it.

• When you were in school, it was embarrassing and lonely to be the smart kid.

• You’d have to live up to it and the PRESSURE would be overwhelming and then everyone would be disappointed in you and the PRESSURE would be even more overwhelming. So overwhelming, then, that you’d have to disappear into a witness protection program and acquire a new identity and not even Sherlock could find you.

• You fear rejection from family and friends. You want to belong, to fit in, to be normal.

• You have so many interests in so many diverse areas that you flit from topic/job to topic/job instead of mastering only one topic/job thoroughly and completely for your entire lifetime. In fact mastering ONLY ONE topic/job thoroughly and completely for your entire lifetime is totally terrifying.

• If you were gifted, you wouldn’t be so anxious, so depressed, so not rich or so bad at chess.

Why does it matter? Why do you need to realize that you are, in fact, gifted?

I’m glad you asked. It’s pretty simple. If you accept and embrace your giftedness (your rainforest mind), you’ll be better able to find your authentic voice and contribute in your uniquely sensitive, intense and complicated way to making a better world. Your Aunt Mindy will thank you! (so will your kids, your friends, your partner, your pets, your colleagues, your neighbors, your trees, your rivers, your planet….) 

_______________________________

To my bloggEEs: Tell us, why it is that you still don’t believe that you’re gifted. Or, if you do believe it, tell us how that happened. Thank you for sharing. I so appreciate that you’re here!


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If I’m So Smart, Why Do I Feel Like A Failure?

photo courtesy of Vanessa Bumbeers, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy of Vanessa Bumbeers, Unsplash, CC

Was this you? You were told repeatedly that you were so smart; that you had a high IQ. You were the top student. Your parents and teachers praised you often for your abilities and achievements. School was easy so you could get high grades without studying. You won awards. Teachers said that you were gifted. Your parents said that you’d do great things when you reached adulthood; That you could do anything you wanted. Expectations were high. 

And so was the pressure. But you didn’t realize it at the time. Until you got to college. Suddenly, you were surrounded by smart kids. You were no longer the star. Not only that. Some of your classes were hard; studying was required. Studying? What’s that? You got your first “C.” You loved psychology and philosophy but you’d never faced a workload like this. No one else seemed to be having trouble. You started procrastinating, as usual, but last minute finishes didn’t work anymore. It was confusing and overwhelming. Your identity was crumbling; you became anxious and depressed.

In your mind, it became clear that you’d been faking your smarts all of these years. You weren’t gifted. Never had been. You’d gotten by on your charm. Now charm wasn’t enough. You were a failure. Every little mistake, every question you couldn’t answer. Failure.

Is this you? Or someone you know?

Let me give you a hug and an explanation.

Kids who are gifted are often told, repeatedly, how smart they are, by well-meaning adults. High grades and other achievements may be praised excessively. This can lead children to believe that they’re loved because they’re “so smart.” Their identity becomes dependent, then, on their capacity to continue to show their advanced abilities and on the praise and attention they receive.

This can lead to unhealthy perfectionism: fear of failure, avoidance of activities that don’t guarantee success, impostor syndrome and procrastination. It can lead to anxiety and depression. Being smart becomes a static thing. You either are or your aren’t. And because you’re used to learning many things quickly, you think that’s the way all learning should be. If you don’t get it fast, well, it just proves that you’re not gifted. Not gifted? Not lovable.

What can you do?

Understand that your worth as a human isn’t due to your accomplishments. Your worth is about who you are, not what you do. It will take time to really believe this.

Make a list of your values. What do you appreciate about others? Compassion? Generosity? Sense of humor? Can you admire these values in yourself?

Imagine your life as a work in progress or as a form of artistic expression. Focus on the journey or the process instead of the product or the outcome.

If you’re in school, design a plan for studying and completing assignments. Break projects down into smaller steps. Look for resources online about dealing with procrastination, perfectionism, expectations, and fear of failure.

Learn about Dweck’s more recent work on mindsets. Even if giftedness is the way your brain is wired, that doesn’t mean it’s an all or nothing phenomenon. You can still have strengths and weaknesses. You can make mistakes and still be a lovely human. You can have high standards and not be perfect.

Make a list of your thoughts and beliefs about your “failures.” Are they rational? Replace your irrational beliefs with what’s actually true. If you’re really struggling, try this book. The book includes ways to self-soothe and calm your anxiety.

Read biographies of eminent people and make note of their struggles, mistakes and failures. Elon Musk and Steve Jobs failed multiple times.

If you’re a parent, avoid praise. It’s often meaningless. Instead, encourage your children by giving specific feedback and asking questions. “I noticed how kind you were to that boy.” “I’m enjoying the details about the characters in your story.” “How was it for you when your team worked so well together?”

If you’re a parent, encourage your child to engage in activities where they need to struggle. They will learn how to deal with mistakes, failures and set backs and will form a stronger sense of self.

And finally, hold on to your dreams!  Even if you feel discouraged and anxious some of the time, or a lot of the time, there is love in you. There is beauty in you. You can do this.

_______________________________

To my bloggEEs: Thank you to the reader who inspired this post. Share your thoughts, feelings, questions and dreams here, please. We all benefit from your experiences!


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Goodbye To Your Impostor Syndrome — Hello To Your Authentic Self

photo courtesy Madeline Tallman, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy Madeline Tallman, Unsplash, CC

If you really were an impostor, you wouldn’t be worrying that you’re an impostor.

Think about it. There are people we all know who do not worry about this. They firmly believe that they have all of the answers and that they are very smart. They do not worry that they are impostors. Kind of like a narcissist doesn’t worry that he’s a narcissist because he’s a narcissist.

You, on the other hand, well, you worry. You have the depth, sensitivity and intelligence to know that there are no easy answers or quick solutions. Except, maybe, if you’re asking: Should I eat that hot fudge sundae now or later?

But you don’t trust that your depth, sensitivity and intelligence is enough. You don’t trust that it means that you’re gifted. You imagine that some day the truth will come out and you’ll be exposed as the fraud that you truly are.

And there are good reasons for this. You can find them here. It’s helpful to know the reasons.

But. What if, just for today, you decided that you couldn’t waste any more time worrying when the truth will come out. Worrying when you’ll be exposed. Worrying when you will fail spectacularly.

You have things to do.

What might that be like? Saying goodbye to your impostor syndrome.

Maybe you’d have more time to create. Maybe you’d finally start that project that’s been calling your name for years. Maybe your children would need less therapy when they got older. Maybe it would bring you closer to your authentic Self and your mission here on earth.

(Note: Do not panic about the “mission” thing. No pressure. Well, maybe a little pressure. But your mission doesn’t need to be: end world hunger. Although, it can be. Your purpose may be to raise compassionate, sensitive, empathetic humans and/or to end the legacy of abuse in your family line. Just imagine if everyone on earth did that. Just imagine.)

I know saying goodbye will not be easy. The impostor syndrome is tangled and thorny. I’m just asking you to start the process. Feel into it. Repeat after me: I have a rainforest mind. In my own particular uniquely magnificent way, I am gifted. If I were really an impostor, I wouldn’t be worrying that I’m an impostor.

Now, let’s go eat that sundae.

_________________________

To my bloggEEs: What if you play with this idea and describe or draw an image of yourself without your impostor syndrome. What do you look like? How do you feel? Is it scary? Lonely? Freeing? Exciting? If you have a journal, write about it. Tell us in the comments what you’ve discovered. And thank you, as always, for your courage.

This post is part of a blog hop from Hoagiesgifted.org. Click on the image to find more posts on the topic of gifted children and adults, written by parents and professionals.13879215_10208710258486417_2791415865854519067_n

 

 

 

 


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The Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Love Your Impostor Syndrome

photo courtesy of Brian Chan, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy of Brian Chan, Unsplash, CC

As you may have heard, ahem, I have written a book that will be released next month, June 2016. I’m noticing just a teensy weensy bit of impostor syndrome.

Well, OK, maybe it’s not so teensy weensy. Possibly because it’s infused with generous amounts of fear: of failure, success, overwhelm, and, oh, utter humiliation and devastation for now and all eternity.

Because I know that you also have bouts of the syndrome, affectionately known as IMPS, it occurred to me that there must be some benefits. Right? Why would so many of us be afflicted if there weren’t something to gain?

So, here it is. My list of the top ten reasons why you should love your IMPS:

10. You can avoid the pressure and expectations that come with being seen as a very smart (not to mention gifted) person.

9. You’re protected from ever having to produce anything of note.

8. You don’t have to worry about being overwhelmed because no one will be paying attention to you and that’s the way your introverted soul likes it.

7. You might actually be an impostor so you’re not embarrassing yourself by admitting it now.

6. In a past life, you were burned at the stake for being brilliant, and that was kind of painful so you’d rather not repeat it.

5. Family members like you better when you’re not so uppity.

4. You were bullied in school for showing your intellectual enthusiasm so you decided that  mediocrity was a safe alternative.

3. You grew up with narcissistic parents and will avoid being like them — at all costs.

2. Your need to be fair and equitable to all humans overwhelms the evidence that you might be smarter than many of them.

1. People like you because you’re less annoying so they bring you tuna casseroles and cupcakes when you’re sick.

So, the next time you go out and write your book or speak your mind or believe that you’re gifted in spite of your fears of utter humiliation and devastation for all eternity, remember to love your IMPS.

And yourself.

______________________________

To my dearest bloggEEs: Tell us about your experiences with impostor syndrome. What’s it like for you? What helps? And, thank you. When we meet? I’ll bring the cupcakes.

 


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Gifted or Impostor — Living With Asynchrony In Your Kids and Yourself

photo from Krista Mangulsone, Unsplash, CC

photo from Krista Mangulsone, Unsplash, CC

If you’re gifted, does that mean that you’re always smart? And everything comes easily? All of the time?

Naaah.

But, that can be the expectation. Yours. Your parents. Friends. Teachers. Your dog, Earl. Well, OK. Earl just loves you. No pressure.

Does it mean that you’re a genius and if you’re not, then you’re not gifted? Instead, you’re a fake, a phony, an impostor?

Nope.

But that can be the belief. Yours. Your parents. Friends. Teachers. Your cat, Eloise. Well, OK. Eloise knows that she’s the genius.

And so, as with most things in your rainforest mind, it’s complicated.

You may have heard of asynchrony. Simply stated, it means that you may be advanced in some areas and not in others. You may learn some things quickly and some things slowly. This can be confusing, especially if you’ve felt pressure to be the stereotypical super-smart person. Brilliant at all times at everything. (Note: The term “asynchronous development” is also used to define giftedness, in general. For more on this, look for articles by Silverman and Tolan.)

When applied to your kids, it can mean the following:

Let’s say her (or his) chronological age is six but her mental age is twelve or thereabouts. This means that her body does what any typical six year old body does but her thinking is more like that of a twelve-year-old (and a curious, sensitive, empathetic twelve-year-old at that). Can you imagine the havoc that might ensue?

She adores Beethoven but can only play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on her violin. He admires Van Gogh but can only draw stick figures. She understands advanced math concepts but can’t remember her multiplication facts. He worries about climate change but can’t convince friends to conserve water. She wins chess tournaments but melts down when her sister gets to sit in the front seat of the car. He loves Shakespeare but hates handwriting. She’s designing intricate imaginative games for her friends but they just want to play dodgeball. He excels at learning new languages but can never find his homework or tie his shoes.

This might be disconcerting. OK, terribly frustrating and annoying. For you and your child. Not to mention, fertile ground for the seeds of impostor syndrome.

But what can you do, other than head out to a deserted island with Earl and Eloise?

Read all about it: From Caitlin Curley’s blog post via Raising Lifelong Learners.  And in the book, Off the Charts: Asynchrony and the Gifted Child.

Validate your child’s feelings: You understand that he’s frustrated and upset right now. You can see that she’s confused and angry. Validate your own feelings: No wonder I feel crazy sometimes.

Then, explain to your child and yourself what asynchrony is. It’s the nature of your rainforest mind to be intense, sensitive and out-of-sync. And make time to nurture yourself.

Earl and, even Eloise, will approve.

___________________________

To my bloggEEs: When do you feel out-of-sync? Have you felt pressure to be super-smart in multiple areas? How do you deal with abilities/topics where you aren’t advanced? Maybe you actually are gifted in several different domains. What’s that like? How do you deal with uneven development in your kids? And, if you’re looking for an online place to find other rainforest minds, check out intergifted.com. Thank you for reading and sharing!

 

 

 

 

 


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They Say You’re A Know-It-All. Are You?

photo from Pixabay, CC

photo from Pixabay, CC

What did you do when you were in school and you knew all of the answers to the questions the teacher was asking?

Did you raise your hand expecting that you’d be called on? Did you raise your hand expecting the teacher to ignore you? Did you not raise your hand because the other kids would get mad at you? Did you blurt out the answer out of frustration or anger or a touch of ADHD? Did you read Hamlet for the fifth time? Did you plan the design for a nuclear fusion reactor? Did you stare out the window in despair looking to the crows for consolation?

All you wanted was to learn something new. To be free to be curious and excited. To share big ideas with your peers. You weren’t trying to make anyone else look bad. You weren’t trying to show how smart you were. You weren’t trying to irritate the teacher. All you wanted was to learn something new.

But you were ridiculed and rejected. And maybe your teachers told you, “Nobody likes a know-it-all.”

Ironic, isn’t it? When you’re often feeling like an impostor? When you know how much you don’t know? You’re the last one to think that you know it all.

Maybe you were like Taylor Wilson. Just trying to correct the outdated information his science teacher was presenting to the class. Eager to talk with someone about “the esoteric behaviors of baryons and mesons.” Exploring nuclear fusion on his own while failing science in school.

Granted, we know that, in school, it’s very hard for teachers to manage large groups of energetic kids and meet each child’s particular educational needs. We know this. We need to work to change the system. But for now, and from now on, I don’t want you to be blamed for your ravenous hunger for knowledge. I don’t want you to be mislabeled. I don’t want you to blame yourself.

You’re not a know-it-all.

You’re a want-to-know-it-all.

_______________________

To my dear blogEEs: Were your experiences in school like this? Tell us about them. And if you haven’t heard of Taylor Wilson, check out the wonderful book, The Boy Who Played With Fusion, by Tom Clynes. Clynes tells an engaging, true story and is an articulate advocate for gifted kids. (Admittedly, I wish Taylor wasn’t using his extraordinary abilities to develop nukes, but that’s another conversation.)

 

 


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You’re Not Crazy. You’re Gifted.

photo courtesy racemat, Flickr, CC

photo courtesy racemat, Flickr, CC

You obsess over commas. You freak out at the mall. You rage at the sound of a leaf blower. It’s been four years and you still haven’t found the right color for your bedroom walls. You remember violent movie images for weeks. You know what emotions strangers are feeling. You have a gazillion ideas in your head, especially at 3am. You’re reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the ninth time. You’ve been enraptured for years with the search for gravitational waves. You cry listening to NPR. You remember the time you smashed Robert’s lego airplane when you were five. And you still feel guilty.

What does this mean? Are you crazy?

Nah.

You’re gifted.

Yep.

I know how you dislike that word. It’s awkward. Everyone is gifted. Yada yada yada.

I know that you don’t feel gifted. All of those other people are so much smarter than you are. Your Uncle Charlie? Now, he’s gifted. You’re a daydreamer, a procrastinator, a slacker, maybe a little crazy.

Sorry, no. You. Gifted.

Here’s why it matters. I admit it. I have an agenda.

If you will stop labeling your gifted traits as craziness, then you’re more likely to find your way to self-acceptance and purposefulness. I’m not pressuring you to save humanity from self-destruction, mind you, although that would be nice. I’m just saying, if you admit that you might have some smartness, maybe a lot of smartness, then, you’re more likely to not be distracted from your path this time around. And we need you to be on your path.

And, of course, you can tell people that you have a rainforest mind. That’ll make it easier for you and them. It’s a lovely analogy, if I do say so myself. It fits. You are so darned intense, colorful, complicated and teeming with mosquitoes possibilities. Am I right?

__________________________

To my dearest blogEEs: Let us know if you’ve felt “crazy” at times. Certainly, it’s possible to be both gifted and mentally ill. Some of you may be both. We’d love to hear from you, too. That said, there are many examples of gifted folks who’ve been misdiagnosed. You are all welcome here.

Have I mentioned that I so appreciate you? Well, I do. If you’ve been reading for a while, you may have noticed that I’m not blogging as frequently as I was. That’s because I’ve been working on the latest draft of MY BOOK. Yes, you heard that right. My publisher (GHF Press) says it’ll be released some time in the later spring. So you can imagine that I’ve been a little bit busy. But I haven’t forgotten you!